For Sandra’s Hen Do (Bachelorette party) we went to Paris for the weekend. The Friday evening was spent in our mansion of an apartment that we rented for the weekend with nibbles and prosecco then on the Saturday we all got dressed in our striped tops, packed our picnics, and headed off to the River Seine.
We had three boats between us and each boat had about five people and each boat had a picnic packed with booze, bread, dips, cheeses and charcutterie.
It was an absolutely brilliant way to spend an afternoon in Paris. It was so much fun driving the boats and so relaxing at the same time as we sipped on our drinks and nibbled on our snacks – and we ended up finishing off our picnic in the sun in a park nearby afterwards.
One of my current favourite cuisines is Vietnamese. It is fresh, healthy, full of goodness, but also it is so full and rich in flavour. I will finally let you in on my current favourite Vietnamese restaurant – it is called Que Me on Stroud Green Road in Finsbury Park.
It is really well priced, always busy so the food is always fresh, it is absolutely delicious and it is so authentic. The owners are Vietnamese who have been eating pho since they were 3 years old and who use a family recipe – and you know I love a family run, independent restaurant where people are really passionate about their food.
I would recommend: The “Mama” Rolls, the Prawn Summer Rolls, the Vietnamese Pancake, the Lemongrass Prawn Bun, and the Special Beef Pho. I have tried all of these here and they are all amazing!
I know I have written about Fink’s previously, but I only wrote about brunch there. Plus it is such a gorgeous little independent cafe that does such simple fresh foods and I just love it in the sunny weather as it is on such a pretty little street tucked away from the busy roads. It is also great in the winter if you are looking for a great place for a good slice of cake and a coffee in a cozy, homely vibe.
We recently came on a sunny day and sat outside with our salad and sandwich just taking in the weather and taking our time to enjoy our freshly made food.
On our last day of our six day Italian Lakes trip – we decided that after breakfast on the gorgeous private terrace of our apartment in Lezzano that faced the incredibly scenic Lake Como – we would drive to Milan and spend out last four hours in Italy there. We were flying from Milan Malpensa so it was perfect for us!
We parked up and walked through the little City to the Duomo Di Milano. The closer we got to the Duomo, there was much more of a hustle and bustle on the streets. We came up the very large square and we suddenly surrounded by tourist taking photos, street vendors selling selfie sticks and bracelets, tourists feeding pigeons, and behind it all stood the very grand Duomo facing us.
We got an overpriced coffee in one of the touristy coffee shops in the square over looking the Duomo (had to be done didn’t it?) and then went on a walk to find somewhere for lunch. We stumbled across a restaurant that was heaving with people on their office lunch break. Pizzas and pastas and steaks like flying saucers over everyone’s heads as the waiters and waitresses rushed around carrying them to the tables.
The food was good and extremely well priced and it was a really good vibe as the whole place was packed and everyone seemed like they were in a good mood chatting away. To be fair – I’d be in a great mood too if I actually got a proper lunch break at work everyday and there was a restaurant this cheap and tasty where I could take my time to eat!
Post eating we got out tickets for the Duomo and stood in line to get in. The line didn’t take long and soon we were inside the magnificently grand building.
We walked around the whole building trying to take in all the little details as well as appreciating the overall grandness of the architecture. The littlest details like the window paintings on every small square of glass, the carvings on each of the pillars and even the statues just added an intricacy to it all.
Lezzano is a quiet, rural, colourful little town right next to Bellagio – this is where we stayed during our visit to Lake Como.
We rented a little apartment with a terrace that faced the lake and right under our apartment was Stone House Restaurant, so on our last evening at Lake Como, after the last couple evenings of just ordering drinks to take over to the beach with us where we would sit and watch the sunset, we finally ended up eating here.
The restaurant had a very rustic feel to it but also has a lot of subtle decor that relates to boats, ferries and sailing. At the far end of the restaurant there is a wine cellar which is full of wines from all over Italy.
I had a steak tartare starter as a main, Jack had a steak, and we shared fries and a side salad. It felt like a feast but because it was so delicious, we managed to eat it all and even went for an ice cream sundae for dessert!
After dinner we took a stroll down to the quiet beach and it was breath taking to see all the towns lit up in clusters around the lake.
The day we drove to Como Town, we decided it was too commercialised, touristy and not as beautiful a town as the others that we had been to, so we continued driving around the lake and ended up in Cernobbio.
Cernobbio is stunning town and is built on a fairly steep mountain so the views are amazing. We drove up, higher and higher into the mountain on a very zig zaggy, winding road and ended up at Gatto Nero.
It was Easter Sunday so there was an Easter Sunday set menu of six courses paired with four different wines.
The starters were a “potato foam” with truffle and crispy octopus in cauliflower cream and lemon foam, which came with Brut. The potato foam was much like a creamy potato soup with an earthy flavour from the truffles and the octopus was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth and it went well with the sweetness of the cauliflower cream.
Seconds were shellfish ravioli with cream fish roe sauce and a shitake mushroom risotto with milk chocolate shavings, which came with white Liguria wine. The shellfish ravioli was probably my favourite dish of all six courses. It had a fresh taste of the sea and I could have definitely just had a big dish of that and been very content. The mushroom risotte was nice – the earthy flavours of the mushroom and the subtle sweetness of the milk chocolate made the dish very rich and interesting.
The main dish was roasted rabbit with roasted baby potatoes and a gravy sauce, which was served with a deep red wine. The rabbit fell off the bone, it was so tender, and the potatoes had a fresh sweetness to them.
For dessert there was an ice-cream-like dish with white chocolate, which was served with a dessert wine and some panettone of course – as it is a celebrations bread and it was Easter Sunday.
Unfortunately I am a picky dessert eater and I don’t often want dessert or crave anything sweet – and I really don’t like white chocolate – so they got a tiramisu for me instead, which was so lovely of them!
After almost three hours at the table, we took our coffees to the terrace to enjoy the view for a while before we headed back.
To end our day of exploring Bellagio – we ended up at Ristorante Bilacus for dinner. Definitely make a reservation for the terrace if you are going here. We didn’t make a reservation but we were very lucky and someone didn’t turn up for their table (which had the most stunning view!) so we were able to sit outside on the terrace.
We started with a trio of seafood platter which had a fish pate, octopus salad and prawn cocktail and a meat platter which had a mixture of ham, salami and thinly sliced roast pork. Both were delicious!
For our mains we shared a Grilled King Prawns, a Prawn Linguine (needed a pasta dish as well but wanted seafood) and a side salad. It was all perfection and I am currently drooling as I write this and think back about the flavours.
The service were great! There were the perfect amount of attentive but still left us to enjoy ourselves without pushing us to order or pay the bill quickly.
We shared the Panna Cotta for dessert – which was refreshing and light after all that food.
It was honestly one of the most enjoyable dinners – everything from the service, the atmosphere, the food. I definitely recommend making a booking if you are in Lake Como.